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Charity spotlight: Herts Disability Sports Foundation

PUBLISHED: 13:05 16 April 2018 | UPDATED: 13:05 16 April 2018

Wheelchair basketball, just one of the many sports on offer

Wheelchair basketball, just one of the many sports on offer

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A young organisation creating opportunities for all to benefit from and enjoy sport in the county

This is the Hertfordshire Year of Physical Activity, a campaign run by Herts County Council and Herts Sports Partnership to promote fitness and wellbeing. It includes making physical activity accessible to all. This is where Herts Disability Sports Foundation (HDSF) comes in. The organisation was set up in 2014 to provide support, education, training and opportunities to all individuals who struggle to access sport and physical activity. HDSF is a countywide charity reaching out to all communities and individuals in Hertfordshire to improve physical health and wellbeing.

The charity works with a number of agencies including Welwyn and Hatfield Borough Council, North Herts District Council, Stevenage Borough Council, Finesse Leisure, Gosling Sports Park, Stevenage Leisure Ltd and Wheelchair Dance Sport Association to provide a variety of activities for day centre users either at their centre or at a growing number of sports venues. The aim is to support these organisations to becoming more inclusive.

Herts disability sports hub officer, Ros Cramp, says that it’s been important that as the charity has grown it has maintained close relationships with its service users.‘

‘We know them, they know us and we work with them to understand what support they need to access sport. That might mean introducing new adapted sports or it may just be bringing the activity to the person rather than expecting them to come to us initially. This is particularly relevant for disability sport but applies to many different groups that are not physically active.’

The foundation also supports inclusive training and coaching development opportunities for volunteers, coaches and day service staff. In addition, open sessions are available to anyone with a disability and their siblings and friends. These sessions include archery, dance, doughnutting on a dry ski slope, fishing and easy rider adapted cycling.

HDSF is also able to cater for organisations that would like to take part in corporate team building activities with a twist, such as paralympic games, wheelchair basketball competitions and challenges which really make staff think about communication and inclusion in a different way.

The charity is supporting and developing a number of clubs at a variety of facilities across Hertfordshire including archery, athletics, boccia, dance, cycling, fitness and wheelchair basketball. The team of staff and volunteers are representative of the clients they work with, many of whom started out as participants, developed into volunteers and over time have been trained and supported to become key members of the delivery team.

But no matter what type of service they are providing the most important thing is to help create affordable and sustainable activities locally for everyone, no matter their ability.

For more information, call Ros Cramp on 01462 600193 or email ros@hswfoundation.org.uk. Alternatively, visit hertsdisabilitysportshub.com

This article is by North Herts Centre for Voluntary Services. There are seven CVS in the county, with hundreds of volunteering opportunities. Go to hertscvs.org for more.

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